x-perience a new world

Douala, Cameroon
01 / 2016

Wander through the sprawling, sunbaked streets of Douala and it is impossible to ignore the enormous residential complexes that dominate the skyline. Massive silhouettes that tower above people and buildings alike, they are monuments to a different time. Built shortly after independence, these edifices symbolised hope, prosperity and the aspirations of a nation facing a new beginning. The future, built in brick and concrete.

To see them today, over half a century later, is to watch past and present overlap. For just as they have shaped the landscape and the lives of those who inhabit them, these buildings have been altered and adapted by the people. And it is here, at the point where architecture and humanity meet, that Desiré van den Berg finds her inspiration.

Her work examines the relationship between people and their environment; how each shapes the other and the ways in which they grow and change. It explores how architecture forms identity, both of a nation and an individual, and the contradiction between a bright future and stark reality. Ultimately, it reminds us that hopes, expectations and aspirations will always be affected by the unpredictability of life, whether carried within people or built in bricks and concrete.

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